Thursday, May 18, 2006

 

Reggae


Before I had the Job in a record shop, I worked an evening and week-end shift in a petrol station, very much a lonely and soul destroying occupation. The only positive side apart from pay day was that we had a little radio/cassette player and so we fetched in our own music to listen to, one of my colleagues had an older brother who was at university and as such he was exposed to more mature and obscure music that he was only too willing to share with me. And so it was that my acquaintance was made with reggae which was was still at this time very much an underground form of music. One of our favorite artists was the stepping razor himself Peter Tosh. Now I think a little moan is in order here as I find that reggae is very under represented on the blogs that I frequent, I know that there are some reggae blogs but I have never been one for musical segregation, being a child of '77 I can confirm that Rastas and Punk did walk hand in hand back then. There is a great debt owed by modern music to these Jamaican sound pioneers. Punk took it onboard after the Clash's rather clumsy at first attempts ('Police and Thieves') with the form, though I must admit their latter efforts (Armageddon Time') were much more convincing. Also the post punk movement was greatly influenced, just listen to the bass lines and the use of space as typified in dub.
Peter Tosh was of course along with Bob Marley and Bunny Livingston the original trio that formed the Wailers, Tosh a strong headed man had been in conflict with Marley for a number of years when things came to a head in 1975 and he quit. Having been quickly snapped up by Columbia he released his debut solo LP 'Legalise It' in 1976, his style was influenced by American rock while remaining true to his Kingston roots, what did set him apart from Marley was his more radical lyrical style. The second album from this deal was 'Equal Rights', 1977, which continued in much the same vein, these two albums are for me the most important work he put down on tape. What was to follow was to be for me a misguided move to the Rolling Stones record label, he had greatly impressed the band, and a direction where his musical roots were given over to a much more FM friendly rock sound, this did give him a certain degree of US chart success.
As everyone knows, Kingston is very much like the far west only with Rastas and ganga though they do have the guns. It was in September 1987 that along with six friends he was shot in his own home, Tosh, touched in the head was not to survive and so reggae lost a legend.
I recently saw a double CD, 'Talking Revolution', that couples his One Love concert appearance with acoustic (demos). Of particular interest are 'Get Up Stand Up' which despite being often thought of a Marley song was indeed by Tosh, and his, and every other rasta's theme song 'Legalise It' a song containing more than a pinch of humour. Now these songs where never intended for public consummation and may well sound a little rough in places but are well worthy of your time as are those first two solo albums.

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